"Sunrise, Grand Canyon" 24x30" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson

Hi guys, been slogging away on this one for 2 weeks now - not my usual method. I prefer to get a painting done in one session if possible but I really wanted to push myself on this one. I got done with the first blockin of all the major colours and felt that there was a huge problem with the colours - they just weren't relating to each other in a harmonious way. There were these big orange shapes in the foreground fighting with this insipid blue background. It felt like rap music when what I wanted was a symphony.

I realized I was going to have to scrape the whole thing off and start again or try painting over top of it. I compromised and scraped all the shadows off and began painting over all the lights. Yuck, it still looked like the cat's breakfast, so I turned in despair to Monet whose paintings I've just seen in America. He really did create symphonies of colour on each canvas.

"The Grand Canal" 28.9 x 36.4" Oil on Canvas

What I saw was that he was threading every colour in the painting throughout the entire canvas to some degree which creates a natural harmony and echoes the way we actually see colour. Look at anything long enough and you will see all the colours of the rainbow in it. So I started doing this in my own painting, threading greens, mauves and blue grays into the orange rocks and trying to create an overall sense of light throughout the scene. I found that overpainting with wet thick paint only obliterated the colour underneath, so I saw the wisdom of using Monet's drier paint approach, lightly brushed to allow the underlayers to show through. My darks built up very quickly and began to challenge the lights so I took to scraping these areas off and then reworking a little.

The temptation is to paint every little crack and rock but scraping back allowed me to stay in a much freer state of mind rather than becoming precious with the painting. After two weeks I am well ready to leave this one alone and move onto something else. I could keep dabbling with it indefinitely but I prefer to move on. I can't honestly say it's my favorite painting of mine but I enjoyed the different process and the chance to understand a little more of Monet's methodology. It's such a shame most of that old apprentice system has gone, but at least we have their paintings to learn from, so I encourage you to use them as much as you like to improve your own painting.

Wikipedia is a great place to find high quality photos of master paintings on the internet. Just go there and search for something like Monet, or Sorolla, or impressionist, or your favorite artist. Such a great resource. Enjoy.

The first block-in.

"Sunrise, Grand Canyon" 24x30" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson

My resource photo

My 10x8" plein air painting.


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Comment by Gregg S. Geary on June 12, 2012 at 11:14


Congratulations on a beautiful painting of a scene from the magnificent Grand Canyon. Your dedication has definitely paid off in a fine finished work. I am just starting to learn to paint but have enjoyed art for many years and been to many galleries. I find your instructional materials very helpful. Monet is one of my favorite artists and I think you have really captured part of his technique in the example under discussion. Are you familiar with the work of the American painter Peter Holobrook? He does many paintings of the Grand Canyon and other similar vistas from across the American West as well as seascapes and boats. He is sometimes classed as a "photo-realist" but I think his works are more painterly. When you look closely at his work they are composed of blocks of color like Monet only the blocks are more highly rendered. If you are interested in checking out his technique, I have a study he did, as well as a finished canvas I can show you when you come to the Workshop in Hawaii in September.

Comment by Jean Sullivan on June 3, 2012 at 16:10

I like this painting a lot, Richard.  It is very subtle, in the finished version.  When I first saw it, before reading your commentary, my first thought was Turner . . . smiles.  Monet always said that he was not influenced by Turner, but you know, I don't believe him.  Last year we were walking down a hallway at the National Gallery in London and a painting blazed out at me from one of the rooms.  It was Monet, I thought.  And then I walked into the room and it was filled with Turner's including the painting that drew me in. 

In the end it doesn't make a bit of difference, but I see many similarities between the later work of both of them, and Sunrise, Impression was as close to being a Turner without actually being a Turner that is possible.

And your painting is every bit as good.  Thanks for sharing it.

Comment by Gary Hill on May 25, 2012 at 17:30

That is just inspiring Richard! What A lovely feeling and ambiance this gives off!

  cheers Gary

Comment by Maureen Murray-Wilcox on May 24, 2012 at 9:29

Richard, have juust loooked at your Monetesque painting. I have always liked his work. Thanks for sharing it with us and encouraging us to " think outside the box". 

Comment by Linda Hearn on May 24, 2012 at 7:26

Richard, you have allowed us to "apprentice" with you -- this is such a great site for learning -- from you and from the many talented artists who are members  THANK YOU  for sharing your skill and knowledge with us. 

Comment by DAN RIOS on May 24, 2012 at 5:38

Hi Richard,i am 56 yrs old and when i grow up i want to paint just like you!!!

Comment by Sharon Casavant on May 24, 2012 at 5:38

I agree with Li, Richard - it is even better than a Monet.  To God be the glory for giving you this gift.  (don't get a big head, I know you won't )  :)

Comment by Ningning Li on May 24, 2012 at 4:28

I don't think I have capacity to comment on this work. For me every layer can be a finished painting. they are all beautiful and amazing. So good that I do not know where my eyes should look at. So advanced technics which make me dizzy. I think that I would better  start to paint a cat for Paulina, maybe it will make me feel not being too small and vulnerable. Richard, you did a Fantastic Masterpiece. 

Comment by Sharon Casavant on May 24, 2012 at 2:02

Absolutely Gorgeous!  Now THAT is what I call a painting!  It looks as though I was actually there staring at the beauty in the morning.  I usually end up painting that way, you use lots of paint, but the results are fantastic.  I only wish mine came out half as good as yours.  MAYBE in time.  Makes me want to paint another one of the Grand Canyon - there is sooo much to paint!  Going to Alaska the 30th, so, I might change my mind and come up with something else - who knows.There are just not enough hours in the day for painting!

Comment by Ningning Li on May 19, 2012 at 15:55

You are a serious artist as you are curious and have never stopped learning and trying new approach. I admire your attitude and I am sure that you will be very successful. This painting is very time consuming as so many things you have to take care and be able to do. Apart from know-how, I believe It need a lot of good quality of personality to carry out this project and finish it . Congradulations, Richard.


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